Monday, October 26, 2009

New Cross at Redeemer

Galatians 6:14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

There were several parts of the new sanctuary design that were saved for future generations to add. Eventually we would love to see beautiful stained glass added and a pipe organ placed in a balcony from which the choir could sing. Another element that was planned for but not immediately placed was a cross. As God’s providence would have it, a specially designated gift was given to provide a cross for the sanctuary. It is a simple Celtic design that brings a sense of completion to the sanctuary.

An empty cross is a symbol of Christ’s finished, redemptive work, plain and simple. The cross is not a symbol of Jesus Himself, but rather what He did for us. The cross is not an object to be worshiped or otherwise venerated in any way. Early Reformed churches removed crucifixes (crosses with Jesus being crucified) from sanctuaries in the 16th century because of their misuse. Many Reformed folk still object to a cross in a worship area. I respect such a conviction, but don't personally share it. Now, some 500 years after the Reformation, without the same idolatrous Roman baggage, the symbol of the empty cross serves as a reminder and declaration of what we believe and is affirmed in the Apostle’s Creed - “Who (Jesus) was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried”.

May the whole of Redeemer’s worship space help us to reflect upon the holiness and grace of our God, for His glory alone.

1 Corinthians 2:2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.


Emily V said...

I love the cross! I saw it the first time, in person, while walking the flag around for Jr Church. I was so focused on how beautiful it was, I forgot I was supposed to make sure the kids were following me! :) Just thankful I or one of the kids didn't take out the communion table, while I was distracted.....

Woody Woodward said...

We are overjoyed! It was during the standing and singing of our first Hymn, I looked towards the alter and was Praised away! I joyfully whispered to Cheri, “Look, the Cross!” When Cheri and I first came to Redeemer, January of 05, one of the questions we ask during our “meet the pastor” time was “Where’s the cross?” Upon completion of the new sanctuary, we ask again! You have not cause you ask not! Praise God for this moving acknowledgment of our Risen Lord! As we worship we will be reminded, all praises and glory goes to Him!

Brother Titus said...

Seriously, pastor, since you have a Master's and are working on a Th.D.?, Ph.D.?, I think I read of you, please give me some perspective and context for this post. Whenever I hear the word, "Celtic," as you used the word here, I immediately think of the Druids. What do you mean by, "Celtic," when referring to the cross in your church building?

Rick Calohan said...

I have been in various churches, shrines, chapels, and cathedrals that had crosses/crucifixes stain glass windows, statues, shrines, and plaques, paintings dedicated in memory of a former priest, pastors, or church member. While all that may have its place, the key is what is being preached at the pulpit. This could explain why Dorothy did not even notice the cross behind the pulpit because we know we can come to the cross of Jesus in every The Divine Service of Covenant Renewal at Redeemer.


When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down:
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Zach said...

That is a nice cross. Do you have a problem with the crucifix--or just with its misuse? (as with the characterization of Christianity as a religion)

Reepicheep said...

I don't have a major problem with a crucifix for the purpose of art or education. I wish the various renderings would be realistic rather than lilly white Jesus, etc., but that's part of the problem, we don't have a clear description of his physical appearance. I have a major problem with the way crucifixes were used in my RC experience. They were often uses as magic wand type apparati by the priest. I oppose the veneration of any image. Finally, I'm not comfortable with images of Jesus in formal worship areas. I have seen the worship of Jesus statues in RC settings, it creeps me out. It's not actually Jesus.

I'm not saying that's how you view it, I'm just citing what I have seen and would be concerned about. Obviously people can venerate all manner of stuff, I don't think our churches ought to be bare.

Zach said...

The people actually thought the statue was Jesus? That is weird--and silly--and idolatrous.

I personally gain much spiritual benefit from praying before a crucifix. It helps me better contemplate Christ crucified in the context of prayer. I also absolutely must--should the Lord grant me the grace of a "slow" death--have a crucifix at my deathbed. The following prayer, from a pre-Reformation deathbed guide for English priests, was to be read as the priest held up the crucifix before the face of the dying person:

Put alle thi trust in his passion and in his deth, and thenke onli theron, and non other thing. With his deth medil the and wrappe the therinne . . . and have the crosse to fore the, and sai thus; - I wot wel thou art not my God, but thou art imagened aftir him, and makest me have more mind of him after whom thou art imagened. Lord fader of hevene, the deth of oure lord Jhu Crist, thi sone, wiche is here imagened, I set betwene the and my evil dedis, and the desert of Jhu Crist I offre for that I shuld have deservid, and have nought.

Reepicheep said...

Zach, I recommend someone read you Scripture at the hour of your death...that would be MUCH better.

Zach said...

Oh, you Protestants! It's always either/or with you. :)

I'm going to both hear Scripture read and gaze upon the crucifix. I'm talented that way.

Phantom495 said...

Correct me if I am wrong, Tony, but to answer Brother Titus, Celtic just refers to Irish, Scottish, or Welsh origins.

Rick Calohan said...

AKA Iona Cross tis Scottish, but you know the Celts and Picts kinda intermingled, thus Celtic Iona Cross, Scotch-Irish, Ulster-Scot.

Brother Titus said...

I googled it. There's much speculation and probably some disinformation on this subject; but, it's probably called a, "celtic cross," because it originated somewhere in the U.K. during missionary work with the Celts, maybe during St. Patrick's ministry.

Woody Woodward said...

Rick, spoken forth like a real Scottsman!